Jessica Craig is the daughter of wildlife conservationists Ian and Jane Craig. Since she was a child she has been more commonly known as ‘Jecca’.
She has a brother named Batian Craig and is mostly known among royal watchers as the girl who formed a “pretend engagement” with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, during his summer 2000 gap year.
Rather than there being a romantic relationship between the two, along with her parents and brother, the family has been William’s ‘second family’, with Jecca herself more like a sister to the prince.
However, speculation was rife, especially in the tabloid press, that the pair had had a ‘summer fling’ during the Prince’s gap year, in which he learnt about conservation at her father’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
This led to Clarence House issuing a denial that the Prince had any romantic involvement or feelings for Jecca which was a surprising move because the British royal court does not normally issue denials or confirmations about the royals’ private lives. The traditional response to questions about the Royals’ private matters is normally ‘No Comment.’
Jecca is the fourth generation of the Craig family to grow up in Kenya.
Her great-grandfather, Alexander Douglas, was a British expatriate who set up a cattle ranch at Lewa, Laikipia in 1922. His daughter, Delia Douglas, inherited this cattle ranch and married David Craig. Their son, Ian is Jecca’s father.
In 1995, Delia Craig established the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy which Jecca’s parents run today.
The Craig family are very prominent and well-known in Kenya and Jecca’s grandmother was the subject of a biography by Natasha Breed, entitled From Oxcart to Email.
Education and Relationships
Moving to London in 2002, Jecca studied conservationist studies and was joined by her whole family Windsor Castle for William’s 21st birthday (21 June 2003), which had an ‘Out of Africa’ theme.
After meeting while mountaineering in Kenya in 2004, Jecca became engaged to Equitix director Hugh Crossley in 2008, and they planned to marry the following year. But the engagement didn’t last with her father revealing the reason being her desire to complete her degree at University College London.
The year previous, her brother had married, with the wedding coinciding with that of William’s cousin Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly. William missed his cousin’s wedding to attend which made world news.
Jecca was a guest at the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and last made the headlines in 2014 when she joined William and Harry on their boar hunting expedition in Spain.
Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge was on the Caribbean island of Mustique with her family and William was criticized for going boar hunting just after making a plea on behalf of the wildlife conservation movement.
In 2010, she dated Philip Kaye who is now married to Prince Harry’s first known girlfriend, Laura Gerard Leigh.
Jecca is still seen occasionally at society weddings and charity events and is a supporter of several of the charities under the patronage of Prince William and Prince Harry, including Sentebale, the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Trust, and Tusk Trust. Prince William is royal patron of the latter.
In 2008, she was working for the Panthera Africa Foundation during which she visited the “Lion Guardians” to learn about their noble work protecting the lion population of Kenya.
In 2010 she launching the Universal Exports Charity Foundation, a UK-based charity that operates in several African countries.
Wedding to Jonathan Baillie
In April 2015, she became engaged to Canadian professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London and on Saturday 26 March, 2016, 34-year-old Jecca married him inside the family’s 55,000 acre Lewa estate with Prince William as one of the guests.
In May 2016, it was revealed that months before her wedding, Jecca gave birth to a baby boy who the couple named Wolf.